After spending six seasons at Washington, Deonate Cooper will spend his seventh and final collegiate campaign at San Jose State. And that number — seven — really says it all.
“I’m trying to escape this feel-good story,” Cooper told the Seattle Times on Monday. “It’s never going to leave me here.”
Cooper graduated from Citrus Hill High School in Perris, Calif., early, in time for spring drills in 2010. That’s when he suffered his first knee injury. Then he suffered another knee injury in 2011, costing him a second straight season. Then the same thing happen again in 2012.
He finally made his debut against Boise State in 2013, when he should have been a senior, and appeared in eight games that season. Cooper saw the field in all 14 games in 2014 and 10 games in 2015, racking up 653 career rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Cooper loves Washington, and Washington loves him back. He won Washington’s Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award in 2013 and was named a team captain in 2015.
But he decided, seven years later, it’s simply time to move on.
“Coach Sark brought me into something special and I didn’t even know it,” he said. “I knew nothing about UW before I came here. But, man, he brought me into something special, and having these thoughts of, ‘OK, I need to leave to chase this dream,’ it’s like, do I really want to leave the people, the fans?
“But this is the right route for me. I had to do it. But I definitely didn’t want to.”